Rain-soaked win over SMU reveals little about TCU's progress, future

Trying to figure out what sort of TCU team you're dealing with, Horned Frogs fans? Dry up and forget Saturday's water-logged win at SMU. It likely says little -- good or bad -- about what kind of team the 2012 squad will turn out to be.

There was plenty of bad for the Frogs on Saturday, but the constant rain and the nature of the rivalry with the Mustangs makes analysis nearly impossible in determining exactly where TCU stands as it begins the final two months of Big 12 play.

From a polling perspective, Saturday's sloppy 24-16 win didn't hurt. TCU (4-0) remained No. 15 in the Associated Press poll and moved up a spot to No. 13 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

A pessimist looks at the bobbled snaps and 156 yards of total offense, including 27 in the second half, as a warning sign to run for shelter as Big 12 teams come calling, including Iowa State (3-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

But for TCU coach Gary Patterson, the Frogs "surviving" the SMU game means just one thing: 4-0.

"All I've asked them to do is go on the road and find a way to win," Patterson said Sunday. "In conditions that weren't ideal, we had a bunch of young players screw some things up early. You just go down the list."

And Patterson did, beginning with the opening kick going out of bounds, giving SMU the ball at the 35, and ending with a high snap on a failed field-goal attempt with 1:06 left in the game.

"We just didn't handle some things very well," Patterson said. "We just have to play better. We've always struggled against them. They had two weeks to prepare. You've got to give them a little bit of credit. We didn't throw the ball very well; we didn't catch the ball very well. We were probably a little bit too psyched."

Yes, the loss of running back Waymon James remains an issue for the offense. And the offensive line often looked porous against SMU. And penalties continue to mount with record frequency.

Patterson, though, seems uncharacteristically calm, despite all of the apparent problems.

"I don't know if I've ever been part of a game where I had three snaps dropped," he said. "Every year we have a ball game like that. We've got a young football team. [Our defense was] better about what we needed to do than we were a week ago. All I'm asking them to do is, every week, keep getting better. And we're getting closer."

The offense, meanwhile, is still stocked with talented skill players, despite underachieving the last three games. Patterson hopes it reveals its true potential Saturday. "You're not going to win very many ball games in the Big 12 if you're only going to have 156 yards of offense and scoring 24 points," he said.

Tucker update

Running back Matthew Tucker, who hurt an ankle in the second quarter Saturday, did not practice Sunday evening, Gary Patterson said. That's typical for older players nursing minor injuries. "I think he'll be fine," Patterson said.

Tucker had four of his 18 carries in the second half and finished with 56 yards. Aundre Dean rushed 10 times for 26 yards to help supplement Tucker. Freshmen Trevone Boykin and B.J. Catalon combined for seven carries for 24 yards. Will we see more of the freshmen?

"We'll have to see down the road," Patterson said. "I wouldn't say because I don't want anybody else we have to play to know because I want them to find out on Saturday."

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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